The US Federal Reserve reported Wednesday that industrial production rose 1.1 percent in April, for its biggest gain since December 2010. Combined with a separate report showing home construction rose sharply last month, the news bodes well for the economy as we head into Spring. The data would seem to indicate that the US economy is, for now at least, shrugging off concerns about the ongoing European debt crisis and an apparent slowdown in China.
The Fed's report was especially positive for the nation's factories, as utilization rose to 79.2 percent, and nearly every figure in the report came in ahead of recent Wall Street projections. The report shows solid growth throughout the industrial sector, which is so key to the overall economic recovery. Overall manufacturing activity rose 0.6 percent in April, showing that the sector that has played such a vital role in the recovery is back on track after slowing slightly earlier this year.
On Tuesday, a report from the New York Fed showed that manufacturing in that region is chugging right along after a brief slowdown in January and February, and the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for April, released last week, hit its highest level since June 2011. Among the biggest gains in the Fed's industrial output reading was a 3.9 percent increase in automobiles and auto parts, while production of computers, furniture, textiles and apparel rose, as well.